Weekly Meal Plan #20: Lots of Breakfast

Isn’t March a long month? My grocery budget certainly seems to think so. And yet there’s always a bright spot! We actually made the vegetarian meal already and it was ridiculously good. Also, my parents are having us over this week for crab sandwiches. (My mom is a fabulous cook and this is one of my favorites.)

Without further ado, our menu for the week. (Links when relevant!) FYI, the vegetarian meal is all kinds of excellent.

The Big Easytater tot casserole
Freezer/crockpotsplit pea soup
Pantry Challenge – pancakes and link sausage
Pizza/Pasta – Traci’s Mac ‘n Cheese
The Random – enchiladas from freezer (last of the food kind souls made us when Shark was born)
Vegetarianeggs in purgatory with Yukon Gold cinnamon rolls

Food for Thought Friday: Children’s Play

So… I figured I’d start a new feature on the blog. Welcome to “Food for Thought Friday!” My goal is to post a different conversation starter every week here.

Yeah, we’ll see how that goes.

First up is an article a friend shared with me. It’s by Dr. Peter Gray, a research professor of psychology at Boston College. Click here to read “Give childhood back to children: if we want our offspring to have happy, productive and moral lives, we must allow more time for play, not less.”

It’s a long article, but well worth the read. He argues that children need more play (NOT more school). If you don’t have time to read the original article, here’s a summary. These are some of Gray’s points:

  • All mammals (including humans) learn through play. When a species’ survival tasks are more complicated, their need for play increases. (Carnivores play more than herbivores, etc.)
  • The most important life skills cannot be taught in school. They must be learned and practiced through play. “These include the abilities to think creatively, to get along with other people and cooperate effectively, and to control their own impulses and emotions” (Gray).
  • Gray defines “play” as voluntary and, when possible, unsupervised… or, at the very least, isolated from intervention. Organized sports leagues do not count. Neither do play dates wherein parents are constantly watching and participating.
  • “Play” must be voluntary because the children involved must be free to quit. This gives all participants power. It also ensures that everyone who wants to play must work to keep the other players happy and engaged. (Here’s how play teaches social skills, fairness, and morality.)
  • Play helps children learn to control fear and anger. The kid who’s climbed trees and fought over the rules of a game will be better equipped to handle tense situations in “real life.”
  • When lab animals are deprived of opportunities to play, they cannot regulate their emotions. Gray states, “Some people object, on moral grounds, to experiments in which young animals are deprived of play. What a cruel thing to do. But consider this: over the past 50 to 60 years, we have been continuously decreasing the opportunities for our own children to play.”
  • Why have we, as a society, shifted away from free play for children? Gray cites several social factors: “the spread of parents’ fears, the rise of experts who are continuously warning us about dangers, the decline of cohesive neighbourhoods and the rise of a school-centric, or ‘schoolish’, take on child development – the view that children learn more from teachers and other adult directors than they do from one another.”

So… what are your thoughts on the article? On the subject of play in general? What are the best “teachers” for children? How should children be spending their time?

Weekly Meal Plan #19: $$$ Saver

What? Only $90 left in the month’s grocery budget? I blame this month’s Costco coupon packet! So many opportunities to buy bulk toiletries….

In other news, only two weeks left of maternity leave. Sigh.

The last thing I want to do right now is “waste” time cooking… and so I planned an admittedly starch-heavy (but very easy and cheap) menu for the week.

* * * * *

Pantry Challenge – minestrone soup and grilled cheese or BLTs

The Big Easy – pulling out a lasagna from the freezer (serving with a tossed salad)

Pizza/Pasta –  creamy cauliflower and basil “Alfredo” pasta

Crockpot/Freezer – Three Packet Slow Cooker Roast (with mashed potatoes and broccoli as sides)

Vegetarianrice and bean lunch wraps

The RandomCilantro Lime Chicken (pulling it from the freezer)

Weekly Meal Plan #18: Waste Not, Want Not

Internet, meet Shark! He's the reason for my hiatus.

Internet, meet Shark! He’s the reason for my hiatus.

Hello, all! Long time, no recipe planning.

I assure you, we’ve been eating quite well in the Diamond household. In fact, I took January off from cooking after Shark arrived. (Thank you to all family and friends who kept us in shepherd’s pie and lasagna for a month. It was glorious to cut out all that cooking, cleaning, and shopping time!)

As for February, well… running my household took enough energy that I didn’t have any to spare for posting meal plans. But now I’m back! I’ve got a whole bunch of basil to use up, and I hate it when a recipe calls for part of an avocado and the rest goes bad. (I love me some avocado, but goodness that’s some temperamental produce!) With that in mind, our recipes for the upcoming week:

* * * * *

Pantry Challenge – Green Goddess grilled cheese sandwiches

The Big Easyminestrone soup and BLTAs (I’ve got to add that avocado!)

Pizza/Pasta roasted garlic chicken pesto pizza (and here we’re using up the extra pesto from all that basil)

Crockpot/Freezer – Crock Pot Coq au Vin (with baked acorn squash as a side)

Vegetarianvegetarian tacos

The RandomCilantro Lime Chicken (I will make two batches, one for eating and one for freezing)